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Sobering news: Beer prices are going up

Like other food manufacturers, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, the nation's two largest brewers, have been hit by rising commodity prices.

August 26, 2009|Jerry Hirsch

Here's some sobering news: Beer prices are going up.

The nation's two largest beer sellers said Tuesday that they planned to raise prices, although they provided few specifics.

"We feel like we will take a moderate price increase on our portfolio," said Peter Marino, spokesman for Chicago-based MillerCoors, maker of Miller Lite, Coors Light and Blue Moon. He blamed higher costs for the price hike.

Like other food manufacturers, brewers have been hit by commodity price increases in recent years, but have not been as aggressive about raising prices, analysts said. Traditionally they raise prices in the fall.

"Beer is a pretty good value right now, and we think we can raise prices on a market-by-market basis," Marino said.

Anheuser-Busch Cos., maker of Budweiser and Bud Light, confirmed that its prices also were going up. The St. Louis-based brewer said it was raising prices on most of its beers and in most regions this fall.

"The markets have been assessed, and we'll be acting on a by-market, by-brand and by-package basis," the company said in a statement.

The two brewing giants control 80% of the U.S. beer market.

The price increases are part of a strategy by the companies to protect profits rather than market share, said Harry Schuhmacher, editor of the trade publication Beer Business Daily. Consumers should expect to pay more because "retailers will not eat the price increases."

As long as the increases are small, beer lovers won't be running to the wine aisle.

"I don't see it as a big deal," said S. Glenn Sawada, founder of the LongBeachHopheads beer club. "As long as they can keep a 12-pack around the same price as a movie ticket, people won't mind."

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jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

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